Post series: Advent: Poem: The Christmas Stone

One year
she received
a polished stone
as gift
for Christmas.

Though
it looked nice
and was smooth
and shined
it did seem
kind of pointless.

Who would send a stone?
Why would they send it?
What was she supposed to do with it?

Not understanding
she kept it though
and put it on the mantle
beside a clock.

Time passed
and years passed
and every so often
she would dust the mantle
and clean the stone.

It still
looked nice
and was smooth
and shined
but still
it seemed
without purpose.

On a Christmas day
her sister came
and with her she brought
a small girl.

Small
and quiet
and five years old
she did not talk
and had not ever.

Carrying the girl
in her arms
she showed her the tree
the lights that glowed
and the ornaments.

She walked around
and showed her garland
and nutcrackers
and little trees.

Coming to the mantle
she showed her the clock
and the candles
and then the small stone.

The girl looked
and held the stone
in her small hand
and gazed at it
with small brown eyes.

She told the girl
it was a special stone
a Christmas stone
and that it came
from far away.

She said it was special
because it was a gift
that was meant to last
for a long time.

She said it was special
because of the time
and all it took
for the stone to be there.

She said it was special
because it was a gift
sent especially to her.

The small girl gazed
and looked at the stone
and seemed to marvel
at the colors it contained.

Then she said
that if the girl wanted
the stone could be hers
as a Christmas gift.

The girl looked up
with small brown eyes
and with a smile
she nodded her head.

She set the girl down
and she scurried to a chair
sat in a ball
and looked at the stone.

Minute after minute
and for more than an hour
she felt its surface
and looked at its colors

The woman then came
beside the girl
and said to her
that there was something else
about the stone
the girl should know.

The girl looked up
and with her eyes
asked what it was.

She told the girl
it was a story stone
and with it
amazing stories
could be told.

She said the girl
could think of the stone
like a gem in princess’s necklace.

She said it could be
a special key
that could open a secret door.

She said it could be
something from space
that fell from a star
that passed by.

She said it could be
whatever the girl wanted
and that with it
the girl could tell
so many stories.

The girl looked at the stone
as her eyes grew wide
and she scurried away
to another room.

An hour later
the girl returned
and held a paper
in her hand.

It had a cat
with a collar
with a gem that dangled
from a loop.

From the gem
yellow lines came out.

Away from the cat
was girl
who looked like the one
with the brown eyes.

The girl pointed to drawing
pointed to the girl
pointed to the cat
pointed to gem
and moved her finger
from along the yellow lines
to the girl on the paper.

Looking down
the woman thought
and then asked
if the girl
found the cat
who was lost
because the stone
shined in the sun.

The girl smiled
and nodded
and clapped her hands.

Though not a word
this was a start
and the woman thanked in her mind
whoever had sent
the Christmas stone.

She resolved in herself
to send one too
hoping it also
would bring some joy.

Poetry essay: Turning a story into a poem and turning a poem into a story

If you’ve read the poems with explanations on this blog, you may have noticed that some of them tell a story.  They present a scene or some event in a metaphorical way.  The idea, in some of the cases, was to add emotion and a different sense of expression to the description of a scene.

In the poems with explanations, generally speaking, the poem was written concurrently as the story was thought of.  Both were worked out together and then the explanation was written.  This is not however the only way to approach this idea.

A writer could write a story and then turn it into a poem, or they could write a poem and turn it into a story.  There are different reasons this might be done.

If a writer were turning a story into a poem, they might do it to have a shorter expression.  A story might be many pages, where as a poem might only be many lines.

Also, they may want to highlight just the most impactful moments of the story.  In a poem, a writer doesn’t have to have all that goes into setting up a story.  They can pick just a part and just show what they want, without having a traditional beginning, middle and end or various other story elements.

Additionally, a writer may want to express a story metaphorically.  Maybe the story has an emotional impact.  A writer might want to get that impact across in a less direct way or in a way that heightens the impact with the use of metaphor.

A writer could also have reasons to turn a poem into a story.

Maybe a writer thought of a very good scene and wrote it out as a poem.  They might at some point want to expand upon this scene and have a full story.

Additionally, it could be that a writer liked the idea of adding elements to the presentation of the poem that would not fit into a poem.  They might think these elements would fit better in a story.

Also, maybe a writer wrote a poem in a metaphorical way and wanted a more direct expression.

When turning a story, or part of one, into a poem, a writer can approach it in different ways.

One idea would be to read the story, and as each part (whether defined by a paragraph, section, chapter or whatever) is read, a poet could write that part out as a section of a poem.  The section might be a line, a stanza or a number of stanzas.

In turning a story into a poem, the writer could be overt and describe what happens in the story in direct language.  Alternatively, a writer could look for a metaphor or metaphors that fit the situation.  They could try to find something that symbolically represents what they are describing.  They could stick with the same metaphor throughout, or have a number of metaphors for different parts.

In turning a story into a poem, a poet should look for ways to condense the message.  What might be paragraphs in a story, might be lines in a poem.  The idea is to have more impact by saying less.

One idea a writer might try when turning a story into a poem is to use haiku.  Haiku are very brief and they can make it so the writer has to focus just on the essence of the story.  They could describe the story in the briefest terms.  A writer might try this for a whole story, or they could have a series of haiku for different parts.

When turning a poem into a story, a writer might try the approach taken in the poems with explanations on this blog and then move steps past it.  Like the poems with explanations, a writer could write out an explanation of the poem they have written.  They could go stanza by stanza, line by line, or even word by word.  They could write a full understanding of what the poem means.

After this step, the writer could take the explanation and turn it into a story.  This might be easier than working straight from the poem, because all of the symbolism and metaphor will have been spelled out.  A writer could take this and write an outline of a story.  From that, they could write a full story.

Turning stories into poems can be a useful means of expression.  A writer can take something long they have written and find ways to express meaningful parts of it in distinct ways.

Similarly, turning poems into stories can be a way for a writer to take something that might be a very good presentation of a scene and expand upon it and add more directness to it.

A Poem: The owner and the dog

The owner and the dog

With steady steps they walked together,
a dog and its owner.

They went left, then right, then left again,
and made a path through the neighborhood.

Then walking by some grass,
  the dog saw something,
and pulled with a tug at the leash.
They went left, then right, then left again,
and as the owner held the leash,
to keep the dog from running,
both tumbled around.

When stillness came,
and the owner breathed and felt calm,
  the dog sat still.

The owner looked,
  the dog sat still –
  sitting,
   not laying down,
   or standing,
  sitting still,
  panting softly.

The owner thought,
“The dog never sits during walks,
never.”

Inside,
the heart went left, then right, then left again,
as the owner worried for the dog:
  torn nail?
  sprained ankle?
  broken leg?
  Why sitting?  There must be something wrong.

The owner stooped,
and looked,
and saw the dog’s legs –
  the dog sat still,
  and panted softly,
they looked alright.

With eyes to eyes,
the owner looked at the dog,
  who seemed awash in contentment.

The owner thought:
  torn nail?
  sprained ankle?
  broken leg?
No.
No crying,
no whimpering,
no sign of anything,
  just sitting still.

The owner stood back,
and pulled the leash lightly,
  the dog sat still.

The owner asked,
“Is everything alright?”
  The dog sat still.

In the distance,
what at first looked like wolves,
and then like dogs,
and then like deer (which they were),
crossed the street in the darkness,
  the dog sat still.

“Why no getting up,
why no need to chase?”

As the owner stood and thought,
and felt worried,
and puzzled,
  then the dog stood up,
  and walked again.

Everything seemed fine.